Dale Emery proposes a simple test to see if a best practice really is.
This test, dubbed Emery’s Ironclad Test of Best Practices, reads as follows:
For something to be a best practice, it has to be practised, and it has to be best.
The first part is a sad reflection on our industry. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of identified “best practices” (basic things like version control!) are often not done or done very poorly.
However, the term “best” is a slight misnomer. The history of the term, AFAIK, isn’t that the practice itself is best. Instead, a “best practice” is a practice used by teams or organisations that are “best”; the assumption being that the practice (or sum of the practices) contribute towards being the best.
So, I’m afraid that Dale’s law probably isn’t quite as ironclad as it could be. Still, it’s pithy and quotable, and that counts for a lot. 😉